AM Update: APD Wants New Copter, Removing Downtown Benches, KUT Signal Vote
Austin Police Want New Helicopter, More Staff
The council is set to discuss purchasing a new helicopter for the Austin Police Department today.
The department says its current fleet is old and in need of maintenance and that a new helicopter would enable officers to more quickly respond to some emergencies.
APD also wants council to approve a bigger budget for the department so it can hire more staff.APD Police Chief Art Acevedo and other police staff answered questions from council members during a budget work session meeting yesterday.
The focus was on how many staff members the department needs to do its job. Last month, an outside study found APD needs to add more than 250 people to the department by 2017.
The council will vote on the budget in September.
Are Downtown Benches Attracting Homeless People?
Officials with public works and the Austin Police Department are meeting today to decide if they want to remove benches on Brazos near Sixth Street to prevent homeless people from hanging around there.
But not everyone thinks that’s a necessary move.
Richard Troxell with House the Homeless says other major cities have figured out how to have benches in their downtown areas.
“The City of Austin purports to want to be a world class city and yet somehow we can’t figure out how to manage benches. I mean, I’m perplexed,” Troxell says.
But the Salvation Army, which runs a homeless shelter for women, agrees it’s a good idea to have the benches removed.
“It takes more of the transients or homeless off of Sixth Street a little bit. By and large it’s really much better for the businesses and we’re pro that,” Salvation Army Spokesperson Randy Allen says.
Regents to Vote on New KUT Signal
The University of Texas Board of Regents is scheduled to vote today on a plan for KUT to expand into two stations – one for music and one for news.
KUT would purchase KXBT 98.9 FM for $6 million – $4 million of that would come from the university in the form of a ten year loan.
A committee of the UT Board of Regents tentatively approved the plan yesterday.